Thursday, March 28, 2013

Rockhouse Canyon / Dawns Peak Backpack Trip

I love the desert....not much more I can say, I just feel at home when I am there. I have been to the South American rain forests, the Western Sierras, the Mexican Tropicals, the European Mediterranean, etc...Nothing makes me feel at peace like the desert. It is alive with so many insects, plants and wildlife it is just amazing. My most recent trip to Rockhouse Canyon and the Santa Rosa mountains showed me an amazing amount of plant and wildlife that exists in extreme conditions. Sometimes you have to concentrate and look real close to find it. Desert life can be small...very small, but abundant. All of these insects have a symbiotic existence with the rest of the desert life, destruction of one has a domino effect for all the rest of them.

Now that Spring is here the plant and wildlife is coming alive, take a look..close down, it is there...

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Can you see the small insects in this close up photo of a flower that is about as big as your fingernail?
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No idea what this spider type insect is but there were hundreds of them near the water in upper Nicholas Canyon and it was hard to get a picture of them as they moved very quickly
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I have to say I have never seen moths or butterflies feeding on scat before but this trip showed me that flies, moths and others all enjoy a good fresh crap for nutrition
Fresh coyote scat feeds the flies, moths and other insects

A beetle enjoys the pollen of a Beaver tail Cactus
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Craig and I headed out Friday after work in the dark and hiked close to 5 miles into Mojave Valley via Rockhouse Canyon to get to the base of Dawns Peak. This would be my third ascent of Dawns in a month, she was my buddy by now...I found a Geocache in the morning looking for a place to take care of morning business....
Geocache #11

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Following Craig up to Dawns Peak, no easy task with heavy packs on. This climb gains almost 3,000' in less than 1.5 miles.
Craig Climbing up tp Dawns Peak

This is looking towards peak 6300 and Toro in the distance
Looking towards peak 6300 and Toro off in the distance

I brought my 7 ounce titanium loppers and crushed our way thru the brush...haha...
6.5 once titanium loppers cut thru the brush like butter

Looking back at Dawns Peak from peak 6300
Looking back at Dawns Peak from 6300

Peak 6300 Register
Peak 6300 Register

Peak 6300 Register

Reminds me of pineapple
Reminds me of pineapple

We found the old Indian trail down into Rockhouse Canyon. It was steep and somewhat difficult to descend especially at the end of a long day
Old Indian Trail down to Rockhouse Canyon

We made camp the second night at what we think was an old ranchers camp. It had a great view of the valley and lots of birds since it was close to a seep
Making camp at an old campsite going down to Rockhouse Canyon

The micro life of plants and animals is amazing, here are some photos of the small (and a few larger) plants and cacti that live in the desert, to me they are amazing
Lovely little cactus

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Agave Cactus leave patterns

Agave Cactus leave patterns

Along the old indian trail I found some pottery, maybe a pot drop
Pot sherds on the Indian Trail

Yours truly at the old Santa Rosa Village Ruins
Yours truly at the upper rockhouse ruins

This is the seep above the ruins, it had good water this time
Seep above upper ruins

Over in Nicholas Canyon you can find some remains of a mining operation, here is an old and deep shaft that remains uncovered
Mine shaft in Nicholas Canyon

Nice view of the upper Cottonwoods with Dawns and Rabbit Peak in distance
View of the Cottonwoods near Nicholas Canyon with Dawns & Rabbit Peaks in the background

Nicholas Canyon Spring...please do not leave the bucket under the water, it will fill with silt and mud, leave it cleaned and upside down under the small alcove nearby...thanks!
Nicholas Spring

View of one of the old indian trails across the valley
Indian Trail thru Rockhouse Canyon

I tucked my head inside a small shelter to see if there was any rock art but only found this 3' snake...!!
Rattlesnake in Rockhouse Canyon

This was a great trip, 4 days wandering Rockhouse Canyon, the ridges above and the valley below. I will definitely be going back.

Total Mylar Balloons - 7 (not all pictured)
Can't visit the desert without catching some mylar balloons

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Rockhouse Canyon / Dawns Peak - ABDSP

Went back up to Dawns Peak to stash some supplies for a bigger trip during Spring Break. This time I went with another friend who started the idea of the bigger route. We hiked in at night from Hidden Springs for about 5 miles and camped out. This was also the maiden voyage of my new 7oz Canon PowerShot S100 which will attempt to replace my Sony DSLR. I can say from this trip so far that it is definitly not my DSLR, it is definitly not my 10mm ultra wide angle lens and it is definitly not 7lbs!

We saw this toad near the spring
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This time I headed up the correct ridge (only like 3000' up)

This is the one I came down a couple weeks ago...bad move

Some of the local flora starting to try and bloom

Great colors on this cactus

There was some snow still left on the east facing ridges on the peak, it made a great plain snow cone treat

Lots of critter tracks in the snow also

The large cairn at the top of Dawns Peak

The road into Rockhouse Canyon is still a bit rough with a couple of really tight spots. most vehicles with good clearance and 4WD can make it to the end. My large truck though took a heavy hit this trip when I miscalculated one tight spot with a couple of large boulders on each side
My truck took sme heavy damage from boulders in Rockhouse canyon

My truck took some heavy damage from boulders in Rockhouse canyon

My truck took sme heavy damage from boulders in Rockhouse canyon

Total Mylar Balloons - 1